Best Ways To Book Etihad First Class Using Points [Step-by-Step]

When they released The Apartments, Etihad took first class flying to the next level. Considered by many to be the best first class experience in the world, The Apartments have come to define luxury flying.

Even on Etihad flights without The Apartments, you’ll still have a great first class suite and stellar first class lounge access.

Etihad first class is one flight experience you won’t want to miss!

A Look Inside Etihad First Class

Whether you fly in an Etihad first class suite or The Apartments, you’re going to have an amazing journey from the moment you set foot in the airport.

You can fly in the first class suite on several different aircraft including the Airbus A330 and A340, and the Boeing 777 and 787 (also known as the Dreamliner).

The Apartments are exclusive to the Airbus A380.

etihad guest first class suites
Enjoy a luxury experience in an Etihad first class suite.

With the first class suite, your comfortable, lie-flat seat has direct aisle access, and it is contained in your own suite complete with a refreshment cabinet, wardrobe, and privacy door.

Etihand First Class Apartment
The Apartments on Etihad’s A380 are perhaps the best first class product in the world.

If you’re flying on the A380, you will enjoy Etihad’s premier first class product. Each Apartment comes with a wide, comfortable seat and a separate couch that converts into your bed.

Your Apartment is definitely more of a room than a seat!

Etihad A380 Lobby
Relax and enjoy the company of your fellow premium cabin passengers at the in-flight lounge. Image courtesy of etihad.com.

You will also have access to an in-flight shower so you can feel refreshed upon arrival. Additionally, there’s an in-flight lounge where you can relax, have a bite to eat, and grab a drink with other first class and business class passengers.

etihad first class bar
Enjoy a drink or a bite to eat at the bar in the Etihad first class lounge. Image courtesy of etihad.com.

Before you board, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the highly-rated Etihad First Class Lounge when flying out of their home airport in Abu Dhabi.

Additionally, you’ll have access to their premium lounges when departing from the U.S. and other cities around the world. Last but not least, Abu Dhabi also has a welcome lounge for you to enjoy upon arrival.

How To Book Etihad First Class

We’ve only just begun to look at why the Etihad first class experience is one of the most sought after flights in the world.

Before we dig in some more, let’s talk about how you can book this awesome flight!

Etihad Guest

Etihad First Class Award
The easiest way to book this experience is with the Etihad Guest program.

Etihad’s own award program Etihad Guest is the most straightforward way to book Etihad award tickets, and it is the only way you can book this flight online.

To complete a booking online, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Etihad
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service
  3. You will be prompted to log in
  4. Select your desired flight
    • You want to find Guest First award space (otherwise you will be overpaying!)
  5. Review the mileage cost and the taxes/fees
  6. Complete your first class booking

If you need more miles to complete a booking, Etihad has several credit card partners that can help you earn. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Points, or SPG Starpoints to your Etihad Guest account.

All of these points currencies can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio. Transfers from Membership Rewards are generally almost instant, while transfers from Citi ThankYou Points and SPG Starpoints can take up to a week.

Remember: You can only transfer 79,999 SPG Starpoints to a particular airline per 24 hours. To ensure you receive the 5,000-mile bonus on each transfer of 20,000 SPG Starpoints, do not transfer more than 60,000 SPG Starpoints to one airline per 24-hour period.

Hot Tip: Check out our Transfer Partner Calculator in order to quickly determine the required number of points for your award!

Check out the different redemption options we laid out in our article on using Etihad miles!

American Airlines AAdvantage

American Airlines Partner Award Chart
American Airlines miles can also be a great way to book first class on Etihad.

The American Airlines AAdvantage program was previously a favorite for many who had booked Etihad first class. However, in early 2016, American devalued their award chart and raised award prices.

While this was an unfortunate turn of events, American’s AAdvantage program can still be very useful. Unlike the Etihad Guest program, American requires you to book Etihad flights over the phone.

Here’s what you need to know.

  1. Visit Etihad’s website
  2. Select your route, travel dates, and class of service
  3. Find Guest First award space
    • To book with American miles, you must find Guest First availability on Etihad’s site
  4. Note the flight number, date, and time
  5. Call American Airlines’ Australian call center
  6. Ask them to search for first class award space on Etihad
    • You might have to provide the flight number
  7. Once they find the space, ask them to put the award on hold
    • Holds last 5 days
  8. Call the U.S.-based American Airlines call center to complete your booking

Transfer SPG Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio if you need some American Airlines miles to complete your booking. Transfers take about 2 days, so American’s 5-day hold policy can be really helpful. If possible, you should put the flight on hold before transferring SPG Starpoints.

You have many different options for redeeming AAdvantage miles, so don’t think using Etihad is your only choice!

Other Options For Booking Etihad

You can also book Etihad first class with Korean Air SkyPass, ANA Mileage Club, and Asiana Club.

Great Etihad First Class Redemptions

Etihad A380
Try The Apartments on Etihad’s Airbus A380. Image courtesy of traveller.com.au.

Generally, American Airlines will have better redemption rates than Etihad Guest. However, there are more ways to earn Etihad Guest miles, so that could be a good option for you as well.

Here are a few routes to consider if you want to try Etihad first class:

  • New York City (JFK) to Abu Dhabi one-way in The Apartments on the A380 for 115,000 American AAdvantage miles or 117,560 Etihad Guest miles
  • Los Angeles to Abu Dhabi one-way in first class for 115,000 American AAdvantage miles or 143,741 Etihad Guest miles
  • London to Abu Dhabi one-way in The Apartments for 62,500 American AAdvantage miles or 87,732 Etihad Guest miles
  • Sydney to Abu Dhabi one-way in The Apartments for 100,000 American AAdvantage miles or 128,780 Etihad Guest miles

How To Earn Enough Miles for Etihad First Class

You can earn both American Airlines AAdvantage miles and Etihad Guest miles through the Starwood Preferred Guest program at a 1:1 ratio (plus 5,000 bonus miles per 20,000 SPG Starpoints transferred).

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights.
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Our Review
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints®
  • Up to 5x Starpoints® on eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Our Review

American Express Membership Rewards points are another great points currency that can be transferred to Etihad Guest at a 1:1 ratio.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Detailed Review
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 points.
  • 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines.
  • 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195
  • Detailed Review
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x). Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Detailed Review

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
  • Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
  • 50% more points on business purchases of $5,000 or more and 35% Airline Bonus.
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Detailed Review
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points
  • Get 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories.
  • Plus, 2X points on the 4 remaining categories and 1X points on other purchases. Terms Apply.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
  • Detailed Review
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 2X points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners. Terms Apply.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Detailed Review

Finally, Citi ThankYou Points can also be transferred to Etihad Guest at a 1:1 ratio.

CREDIT CARDCARD INFO
Citi Prestige® Card
  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Card Review
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
  • 2 ThankYou® Points per dollar spent on dining at restaurants and entertainment
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Card Review
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card
  • 3 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on Travel, including Gas
  • Annual Fee: $95 (Fee waived for the first 12 months)
  • Card Review

Occasionally, all 3 of these points programs run promotions with Etihad that provide up to a 20% bonus on the points transferred to Etihad Guest

When Should You Search for Award Space?

Etihad does not consistently release first class award space at a specific time. The sooner you have your travel dates narrowed down, the more luck you’ll have booking. While you might not find award space immediately, check back regularly.

What Do You Get With Etihad First Class?

Let’s talk a bit more about what you get during the Etihad first class experience.

First Class Lounge

In Abu Dhabi, you will have access to their exclusive first class lounge that includes a fully staffed bar with a wide selection of wine and spirits. You can also order food from the bar menu or head to the dining room for a sit-down meal.

If that weren’t enough, you can also utilize the Six Senses Spa and Style & Shave. As a first class passenger, you will have your choice of a complimentary massage, facial, wet shave, nail, or blow dry service.

You can also enjoy a nice cigar at the cigar lounge. If you’re a cigar lover, grab a beer or your favorite whiskey, sit back, relax, and enjoy a smoke.

Etihad also provides a first and business class lounge at 9 other airports: Dublin, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Manchester, Melbourne, New York (JFK), Paris, Sydney, and Washington, D.C. They also partner with other lounges at airports across the globe.

First Class Dining

etihad first class lounge dining
Enjoy a fine-dining experience in the first class lounge. Image courtesy of etihad.com.

From fine dining in the Etihad First Class Lounge to your in-flight meals, you won’t be disappointed with any of the food during your first class experience.

Your first class flight includes on-demand dining so you can choose what to eat and when you want to have it. The dining experience in first class is definitely built around your enjoyment!

First Class Shower

Etihad First Class Shower
Enjoy a refreshing shower when you fly first class on Etihad’s A380. Image courtesy of ausbt.com.au.

Finally, don’t forget to schedule your in-flight shower when flying The Apartment on the Airbus A380. The only other way to experience an in-flight shower is when flying Emirates first class, so don’t pass up this rare and exclusive opportunity!

Your shower includes 5 minutes of water with an easy pause control so you can wash without wasting water (or time). Once you are ready to rinse, you can turn on the water back on.

It might not sound like much time, but you can easily end up with 2 minutes to just relax in the water before your time is up.

If you’re connecting and didn’t get time to visit the first class lounge, maybe you’d like to shower early in the flight before getting settled in to sleep. Or perhaps this is your first flight of the day, and you’d rather shower toward the end of your flight so you’re refreshed upon arrival.

Either way, Etihad has you covered! Make sure to schedule your shower as soon as you board to ensure the time slot you want is available.

Etihad Chauffeur Service

While chauffeur service is not available when booking with American miles, you do receive it if you book through Etihad Guest (or one of their other partner programs).

Utilizing the chauffeur service makes your transit to and from the airport even easier since you won’t have to schedule a hotel shuttle, arrange private transportation, or find an Uber, Lyft, or taxi.

You will need your Etihad booking reference number to reserve your ride, but once you have that it’s a simple reservation process that is all online.

Final Thoughts

It’s no wonder Etihad first class is a highly sought after ticket! The Apartments might just be the best first class product in the sky right now.

Whether you’re in an apartment or suite, Etihad’s first class is a luxury experience all the way through. Take advantage of fine dining, amazing service, and more space than imaginable in The Apartments. You’ll have more fun flying than ever before!

Now, go find Etihad award space and book your next adventure!

*Featured image courtesy of cntraveler.com

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

FAQ

What is the best way to book Etihad first class?
The easiest way to book Etihad award flights is through the Etihad Guest program. It is the only program that allows you to book online.

However, you can book using fewer miles through the American Airlines AAdvantage program.

What credit cards can help me earn miles to fly Etihad first class?
If you need to earn American or Etihad miles, you can use the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

Additionally, Etihad miles can be earned through cards in the American Express Membership Rewards Loyalty Program or the Citi ThankYou Rewards Loyalty Program.

What do I get when flying Etihad first class?
When you fly Etihad first class on the Airbus A380, you’ll enjoy the largest first class suite in the sky.

You can also take an in-flight shower and have a drink or a snack at the in-flight lounge.

Before your flight, you can relax with a drink or a cigar at the first class lounge. Don’t forget to get a shave, haircut, or massage!